Almost all companies utilize the Internet to promote their business. Online tools include customized websites, Facebook, Yelp and Twitter, among many others. For small businesses, the Internet provides valuable resources to improve visibility and credibility. However, although there are many positives associated with advertising online, there are also negatives. When it comes to modern-day insurance underwriting, a company’s online presence may cause an increase in premium, or may even hinder their ability to secure coverage.
First, the image a business creates on a company website may drastically alter the underwriting process. For example, many small construction companies upload images of larger scale projects on their page. In many cases, they do so to seem larger and more established; however, an insurance underwriter may view this as increased risk and exposure. Other examples include restaurants with pictures of crowded dance floors, or mechanics with information on their website regarding a towing service. When creating your company website, please remember that an insurance underwriter WILL review it before offering a policy.
Next, social media has become a major component of advertising for many businesses. Facebook is used to promote events or products. At times, your business may be perceived differently than what you intended based on social media promotions.
Finally, Yelp must be monitored, and any inaccuracies should be disputed. Although you may not be able to control all posts, it is important to keep track. An insurance underwriter will search for Yelp reviews, and in some cases, may use such reviews to assess risk.
We’ve witnessed many recent examples of businesses that have been declined coverage due to information posted online. In other cases, we’ve worked with businesses that received increased premiums, and changes to their rating basis, because of websites, Facebook pages, and Yelp reviews. It is common that the information is not accurate, but to an insurance underwriter, the Internet is a third-party resource that the business helps create.
In summary, make certain that the image created online for your business is accurate. This includes images, reviews, product offerings, services provided, and even experience of the business owners and employees. If you have questions surrounding this topic, feel free to contact us.